Career Guide for Casino Workers

Casino workers fill a variety of roles in gaming operations. The roles all serve the same purpose: to serve the needs of the casino in increasing the number of gamblers at the establishment and the amount of money they gamble.

In this free career guide, you will learn how to have a successful career as a casino worker.

Casino Worker Summary

  • Workers need a license issued by a regulatory agency, such as a State casino control board or commission.
  • Competition for jobs is expected to be keen.
  • Job prospects will be best for those with previous casino gaming experience, a degree or technical or vocational training in gaming or a hospitality-related field, and strong customer service skills.

Working as a Casino Worker

Legalized gambling in the United States today includes casino gaming, State lotteries, pari-mutuel wagering on contests such as horse or dog racing, and charitable gaming. There are a number of service occupations that are unique to the multibillion-dollar world of gaming, the playing of games of chance.

The majority of gaming services workers are employed in casinos. Duties and titles may vary within occupations from one establishment to another. Some positions are associated with oversight and direction—supervision, surveillance, and investigation—while others involve working with the games or patrons themselves by tending slot machines, dealing cards or running games, handling money, writing and running tickets, and other activities. In most gaming jobs, workers interact directly with patrons, and part of their responsibility is to make those interactions enjoyable.

Like nearly every business establishment, casinos have workers who direct and oversee day-to-day operations. Gaming supervisors and gaming managers oversee the gaming operations and personnel in an assigned area. They circulate among the tables and observe the operations to ensure that all of the stations and games are covered for each shift and that workers and gamblers adhere to the rules of the games. Gaming supervisors and gaming managers often interpret or explain the operating rules of the house to patrons who may have difficulty understanding the rules. Periodically, they address complaints about service.

Gaming managers also have additional responsibilities beyond those of supervisors. For example, gaming managers prepare work schedules and station assignments for their subordinates. They are responsible for interviewing, hiring, training, and evaluating new workers.

Slot key persons coordinate and supervise the slot machine department and its workers. Their duties include verifying and paying off jackpots to patrons, resetting slot machines after completing the payoff, and refilling machines with tickets or money. Slot key persons must be familiar with a variety of slot machines and be able to make minor repairs and adjustments to the machines as needed. If major repairs are required, slot key persons determine whether the slot machine should be removed from the floor. They also enforce safety rules and report hazards within their assigned areas.

Gaming and sports book writers and runners assist in the operations of games such as bingo and keno, in addition to taking bets on sporting events. They scan tickets presented by patrons and calculate and distribute winnings. Some writers and runners operate the equipment that randomly selects the numbers. Others may announce numbers selected, pick up tickets from patrons, collect bets, or receive, verify, and record patrons’ cash wagers.

Gaming dealers operate table games such as craps, blackjack, and roulette. Standing or sitting behind the table, dealers provide dice, dispense cards to players, or run the equipment. Dealers also monitor the patrons for infractions of casino rules. Gaming dealers must be skilled in customer service and in executing their game. Dealers determine winners, calculate and pay winning bets, and collect losing bets. Most gaming dealers are competent in at least two games, one usually being blackjack or craps.

Work environment. Most casinos are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Employees can be expected to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Casino work can be physically demanding. Most occupations require that workers stand for long periods; some require the lifting of heavy items. The atmosphere in casinos exposes workers to certain hazards, such as cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke. Noise from slot machines, gaming tables, and talking workers and patrons may be distracting to some, although workers wear protective headgear in areas where loud machinery is used to count money.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Each casino establishes its own education, training, and experience requirements, but all gaming service workers must obtain a license from a regulatory agency, such as a State casino control board or commission.

Education and training. There usually are no minimum educational requirements for entry-level gaming jobs, although most employers prefer workers with at least a high school diploma or GED.

Each casino establishes its own requirements for education, training, and experience. Some of the major casinos and slot machine manufacturers run their own training schools, and almost all provide some form of in-house training in addition to requiring certification. The type and quantity of classes needed may vary. Many institutions of higher learning offer training or classes toward certificates in gaming, as well as offering associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees in a variety of hospitality-related fields, such as hospitality management, hospitality administration, or hotel management. Some schools offer training in games, gaming supervision, slot attendant and slot repair technician work, slot department management, and surveillance and security.

Slot key persons do not need to meet formal educational requirements to enter the occupation, but completion of slot attendant or slot technician training is helpful. As with most other gaming workers, slot key persons receive on-the-job training during the first several weeks of employment.

Gaming and sports book writers and runners usually have at least a high school diploma or GED. Most of these workers receive on-the-job training.

Most gaming dealers acquire their skills by attending a dealer school or a vocational and technical school. Such schools teach the rules and procedures of the games, as well as State and local laws and regulations. Although beneficial, graduation from one of these schools does not guarantee a job at a casino, because most casinos also require prospective dealers to audition for open positions. During the audition, personal qualities are assessed along with knowledge of the games.

For most gaming supervisor and gaming manager positions, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is beneficial, but not required. Most employees in these occupations have experience in other gaming occupations, typically as dealers, and have a broad knowledge of casino rules, regulations, procedures, and games.

Licensure. Gaming services workers are required to be licensed by a regulatory agency, such as a State casino control board or commission. Applicants for a license must provide photo identification and pay a fee. Some States may require gaming service workers to be residents of that State. Age requirements vary by State. The licensing application process also includes a background investigation and drug test.

Other qualifications. In addition to possessing a license, gaming services workers need superior customer service skills. Casino gaming workers provide entertainment and hospitality to patrons, and the quality of their service contributes to an establishment’s success or failure. Therefore, gaming workers need good communication skills, an outgoing personality, and the ability to maintain their composure even when dealing with angry or demanding patrons. Personal integrity also is important because workers handle large amounts of money.

Gaming services workers who manage money should have some experience handling cash or using calculators or computers. For such positions, most casinos administer a math test to assess an applicant’s level of competency.

Gaming supervisors and gaming managers must have strong leadership, organizational, and communication skills. Excellent customer service and employee relations skills also are necessary.

Advancement. Advancement opportunities in casino gaming depend less on workers’ previous casino duties and titles than on their ability and eagerness to learn new jobs. For example, an entry-level gaming worker eventually might advance to become a dealer or card room manager or to assume some other supervisory position.

Employment as a Casino Worker

Gaming services occupations provided 178,700 jobs in 2008. Employment among occupational specialties was distributed as follows:

Gaming dealers 91,100
Gaming supervisors 40,900
Slot key persons 24,400
Gaming and sports book writers and runners 16,200
Gaming managers 6,200

Gaming services workers are found mainly in the traveler accommodation and gambling industries. Most are employed in commercial casinos, including riverboat casinos, casino hotels, and pari-mutuel racetracks with casinos—known as “racinos,” which are legal in 20 states. In addition, there are 29 States with Indian casinos. The largest number of gaming services workers work in casinos in Nevada. Legal lotteries are held in 43 States and the District of Columbia, and pari-mutuel wagering is legal in 40 States. Forty-seven States and the District of Columbia also allow charitable gaming.

Job Outlook

Employment of gaming service workers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. Opportunities will be best for those with previous casino gaming experience, a degree or technical or vocational training in gaming or a hospitality-related field, and strong customer service skills.

Employment change. Employment in gaming services occupations is projected to grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing popularity and prevalence of Indian casinos and racinos will provide new job openings. States that have recently legalized gaming in the form of electronic gaming devices or table games will provide growth as more gaming facilities are opened. With many States benefiting from casino gambling in the form of tax revenue or agreements with Indian tribes, additional States are reconsidering their opposition to legalized gambling and will likely approve the construction of more casinos and other gaming establishments during the next decade. Additional job growth will occur as popular tourist destinations, such as Las Vegas, continue to expand their gaming operations.

The increase in gaming reflects growth in the population and in its disposable income, both of which are expected to continue. Higher expectations for customer service among gaming patrons also should result in more jobs for gaming services workers. Because of increasing demand in gaming establishments for additional table games, particularly poker, the largest growth is expected among gaming dealers. However, new automated electronic table games, which eliminate the need for dealers, will moderate growth.

Advancements in slot machine technology, such as coinless slot machines—known as “ticket-in, ticket-out machines”—will cause employment of slot key persons to grow by 3 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Ticket-in, ticket-out technology reduces the need for slot key persons to pay out jackpots, fill hoppers, and reset machines. Additionally, slot machines linked to a network allow adjustments to be made from a central computer server rather than from the floor by a slot key person.

Job prospects. In addition to job openings arising from employment growth, opportunities will result from the need to replace workers transferring to other occupations or leaving the labor force.

Keen competition for gaming services jobs is expected, because there generally are more applicants than jobs. Job prospects in gaming services occupations will be best for those with previous casino gaming experience, a degree or technical or vocational training in gaming or a hospitality-related field, and strong interpersonal and customer service skills.

Projections Data

Projections data from the National Employment Matrix
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2008 Projected
Employment, 2018
Change,
2008-18
Number Percent
Gaming services occupations 178,700 204,400 25,700 14
Gaming managers 11-9071 6,200 6,900 700 12
First-line supervisors/managers of gaming workers 39-1010 65,300 70,800 5,500 8
Gaming supervisors 39-1011 40,900 45,700 4,800 12
Slot key persons 39-1012 24,400 25,100 700 3
Gaming dealers 39-3011 91,100 108,400 17,300 19
Gaming and sports book writers and runners 39-3012 16,200 18,300 2,100 13
NOTE: Data in this table are rounded.

Earnings for Casino Workers

Wages for gaming services workers vary according to occupation, level of experience, training, location, and the size of the gaming establishment. The following were median annual wages for various gaming services occupations in May 2008:

Gaming managers $68,290
Gaming supervisors 45,500
Slot key persons 25,460
Gaming and sports book writers and runners 19,690
Gaming dealers 16,310

Gaming dealers generally receive a large portion of their earnings from tips in the form of tokens received from players. Earnings from tips vary with the table games the dealer operates, the personal traits of the dealer, and the pooling policies of the casino.

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